Minister of love

6th February 1998 at 00:00
We take it all back. Bart McGettrick is still in contention as the Man Who Is Everywhere - in fierce competition with Douglas Osler, head of the Inspectorate. The St Andrew's College principal was, as ever, not in St Andrew's College last Tuesday. He was in Edinburgh, talking to heads. In fact, it was his second year in succession at the same conference in the same city.

McGettrick himself remarked: "It is something of a record for a Glaswegian to be invited back to Edinburgh. Indeed, those who heard me last year may think it is something of a record."

With John Knox bearing down on him from the walls of Edinburgh City Chambers, McGettrick spun an appropriately evangelical record urging teachers to spread "the ministry of hope" and indulge in love. But the General Teaching Council needn't worry. McGettrick - a member of the council, of course - was talking spiritually.

McGettrick spoke in his usual vein, spicing his beliefs with hefty doses of agnosticism. He reserved particularly wry amusement for the collection of data on pupils and mused on whether this might even be extended. Take people's weight, for example, which generates so much excitement when babies are born. Why should the obsession with statistics stop there, he wondered. "I saw your big sister the other day. I wonder what she's tipping the scales at now. "

Testing also drew some sharp comment. It should be appropriate and reflect pupils' experiences, McGettrick stressed. He instanced the Irish exam question on "how do you build a fire out of doors?". One boy's response was: "Take it off its hinges and then pour petrol over it."

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